Frames that define an era of photography

MASTER PIECES

A pictorial journey of photography in India is mapped through works of twelve photographers.

The captivating smile of Suraiya and the persona of Indira Gandhi are a study in contrast. But the similarity between these black and white photographs is the mastery of the lensmen behind them. While JH Thakker’s portrait of Suraiya are enchanting, Ram Dhamija’s picture of Indira Gandhi makes one wonder about the thoughts in this feisty leader’s mind. To add to this, OP Sharma’s portraits of renowned personalities like Shammi Kapoor, MF Husain, Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Rajiv Gandhi leave everyone astounded at the rich heritage that our photographers have created for future generations to cherish.

These digital archival prints, mostly in black and white, are displayed as part of the exhibition ‘The Best of New Photography Today’ at Apparao Art Gallery, The Lodhi. Tracing the development of photography in the modern era, the exhibition showcases works of 12 ace photographers. From the works of veteran OP Sharma to the young Vicky Roy, the exhibition provides an insight into photography as it was a few years back and now.

From Raj Kapoor to Pran, most of the leading male and female actors have been captured by JH Thakker’s lens. It is a visual treat to see these Hindi film industry icons and admire the photographer’s skills in capturing their natural expressions. Apart from the portraits, there are also couple photographs of Shammi Kapoor and Nutan, Sajjan and Vijaylakshmi and Raj Kapoor and Nargis, that exude their onscreen chemistry and off screen camaraderie. “By the time Madhuri Dixit came to get her portfolio done in black and white, I had started handling the work. I still remember how my father guided me during that shoot,” says Vimal Thakker, JH Thakker’s son reminiscing about the old days.   

If these images are charming then browse through the work of OP Sharma where he captures legends in his camera. From Ustad Amir Khan to Pandit Jasraj and Geeta Kapur to Chitra Krishna, he has shot them all, but with his deft art of photography.Then there is Ram Dhamija’s photographs shot at various places in India. He shows two wretched men warming their hands over hot coals in 1960 Punjab and brings alive the condition of the state in that era. Similarly, his top-angle shot of a Haridwar milling with people on both land and water, shot in 1962 arrest’s a viewer’s attention to the fine details of the lensman’s craft.

The works of Chitra Sharma appear as abstracts painted on canvas while the photographs by Vinit Gupta are quite definite. His untitled pictures capture rural men in different stages of their life, with expression that are an outcome of their living conditions. Vicky Roy on the other hand clicks clothes hanging above and shoes lines below which makes one think about our lifeless nature of our existence.

The depressive thoughts get a shot of humour with Gautam Bhatia’s 30-odd pictures where he replaces faces of people in iconic moments with that of Mahatma Gandhi’s. Bhatia says, “It is not a comment on Gandhi, but a satirical reflection of a middle-class individual’s life. My father was a collector of Life magazine and one day I pulled out all the significant pictures to replace them with Gandhi’s face. It is just to show how Gandhi would have lived his life if he was living in the materialistic world today.”The exhibition is on display at The Lodhi hotel till September 30.

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